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The Epiphany 
of the laity

We have now moved into the second Year of the Laity in Hong Kong. It is a reminder that we must respond to the call from God and, as Jesus described it, become the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. Soon after his birth, he received a visit from the magi, the three wise men from the east, something which tells us that the God he came to tell us loves us, loves us all, irrespective of where we come from.

We call this feast the Epiphany, which we celebrate today, and it is reminder to us that we need to search for this God, as the magi did.

Lay people live in the secular world and have different roles to play in both family and the society.  “They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity” (Lumen Gentium 31). 

The biggest challenge Catholics face today is living the gospel in a fast moving world. While globalization has given us greater links with other countries, societies and their cultures, it also assaults us with new products, pushing us to consume more and more in a world where 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water and 80 million don’t have enough to eat.

A report from the United Nations advises that the Gini coefficient of Hong Kong (wealth gap measurement) has been measured at 43.4 per cent, making our city the most unequal in the developed world.

It is also difficult to describe a city where the marriage rate is only half the divorce rate and abortion is so acceptable, can we really look at our city as one that loves life?

While our faith can be a strong witness for good in the face of such problems, a recent survey revealed that only 72.5 per cent of lay people went to Church every week last year, 30.6 per cent never read the bible, over 20 per cent do not pray everyday and 55.8 per cent did not join a Catholic community.

The Hong Kong Central Council of Catholic Laity, parishes and many lay associations have encouraged these practices.  The Year of the Laity can be seen as an opportunity for people to do something about this.  

Jesus Christ once asked the disciples to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations. This is the challenge of our baptism. The witness of the lay missionaries from the diocese who are serving overseas is one expression of this. 

Pope Benedict XVI, in his message for the World Mission Sunday last year, says, “It is important that both individual baptised people and ecclesial communities be involved in the mission, not sporadically or occasionally, but in a constant manner, as a form of Christian life.”

When we, both individually and as a member of a Church organisation are close to Christ, we will follow the teaching of the gospel and give witness to the love of God in this world. SE